"Generally speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news. But for practitioners or spiritual warriors – people who have a certain hunger to know what is true – feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back." --Pema Chodron
Hello! And welcome to 28 Days of Abstinence. Come on in. Pull up a chair and get comfortable while you still can. :) I am not going to lie to you, this is not going to be easy, especially if what you are letting go of (I prefer this to "giving up") is a long-ingrained habit or addiction.
Abstinence, I think, scares people because it brings up right-wing politicians trying to rescind our abortion rights or keep girls "pure" for marriage while looking the other way while boys (and men for that matter) do whatever they want.
If you can, send any preconceived notions you have about the word "abstinence" out of your mind and let's take a closer look at the word itself.
The basic definition on www.merriam-webster.com is, " the practice of not doing or having something that is wanted or enjoyable." I think this is fairly close to what most of us think of when we hear the word abstinence. So let's dig a little bit deeper.
A second definition is, "voluntary forbearance especially from indulgence of an appetite or craving." This is more what I have in mind for us this month. We all have indulgences and cravings that inform our lives to some degree and the difference between "healthy" and "unhealthy" lies most often in finding the balance between some indulgence (life isn't really worth living without some indulgence, is it?) and overindulgence.
There are exceptions to this, of course, when something is just flat-out bad for us: for instance if we are allergic or it is causing or exacerbating a negative health condition.
So I hope you will choose something to abstain from this month which will be a bit challenging and which will make some positive difference in your life to let go of, either for a time or permanently. (You don't have to decide now. Start with twenty-eight days and see how it goes...)
I am choosing WHEAT because I LOVE bread (and crackers and cookies and croissants), but in recent years it hasn't really been returning the favor. After eating it I feel bloated and often get the sniffles and stiff joints. I have tried to give it up here and there in a less formal fashion - and I eat A LOT less of it than I used to - but it never sticks and I end up on that slippery slope to full on WHEAT-eating. (Croissants are my gateway drug.)
Once you have chosen your "thing" - this could be a food (meat, wheat, sugar, or something else) or a habit (nail biting, cigarette smoking, etc.) or a behavior (lying, cheating, stealing, any of the ten commandments or the seven deadly sins would work) - allow yourself to have it ONE MORE TIME today and then let it go.
This meditation/exercise should help:
Find a comfortable meditation position, either sitting cross-legged, or in a chair with your feet on the floor or even lying down with your legs straight out in front of you and your arms at your sides (corpse pose in yoga). Begin by closing your eyes and taking three deep breaths.
Imagine that you are holding the thing you are letting go of in your hands. Take stock of it. What are its qualities, both good and bad? What does it give to you? What does it take away? How do you feel about it right now?
When you are ready, physically hand it over to The Universe, or God, or whatever power greater than yourself you believe in, for safe keeping, knowing you can always take it back after the twenty-eight days.
Breathe deeply a few more times, then open your eyes and go about your day.
Congratulations, you have begun the twenty-eight day ABSTINENCE challenge! Let any discomfort show you where you are holding back and transform you into a Spiritual Warrior.
Check back daily for information, inspiration, and support, both here or on the Being & Becoming Community Facebook page.
[N.B. IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN THE GRIPS OF A SERIOUS ADDICTION TO DRUGS, ALCOHOL OR ANY OTHER HIGHLY ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE, PLEASE DO NOT GO IT ALONE. I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND THIS CHALLENGE IS NOT DESIGNED TO ASSIST YOU IN RECOVERING FROM A SERIOUS ADDICTION.
Having said that, please feel free to follow along either before, during or after professional treatment.]